Fringe finance

Promotor warns of Festival threat over unpaid bill

Kyiv City Ballet is among this year’s Fringe shows (pic: Terry Murden)

An Edinburgh Festival Fringe promoter has warned that the event is in jeopardy because of a growing financial crisis.

William Burdett-Coutts, artistic director, founder and CEO of the Assembly Festival, told a preview audience that an unpaid bill is putting its future in doubt.

To help pay off a huge Covid loan his organisation took on additional work, including the Coventry City of Culture in 2021 which was hugely successful.

But the company that ran it went into liquidation and left his business with a £1.5m bill.

He said Coventry City Council and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport have a “duty of care” but have not accepted responsibility. He said that unless it is fixed it could be catastrophic for his organisation.

“I think we are falling between the cracks. Everyone is putting up their hands and saying it is not our problem.

“I have been working at this for 43 years and this is the biggest crisis I have faced,” he said.

In Edinburgh the Assembly Festival has 25 theatres presenting 200 shows with an audience of up to half a million – equal to the size of Wimbledon fortnight and bigger than Glastonbury.

“To take that out of the Fringe would be a massive hole, We represent 20% of the Fringe in terms of revenue.”

He said a solution needs to be found by the end of the year and the Scottish Goverment had shown support.

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